Marcus Willis became the new hero of British tennis after realising his lifelong dream of playing at Wimbledon in July 2016, and he said he has one person in particular to thank – his then girlfriend Jenny Bate. Speaking exclusively to HELLO! magazine, Marcus opened up about the incredible journey that led to him competing against his idol Roger Federer on Centre Court. Having only met Jenny on a night out in February that year, Marcus said that she was still the driving force behind him achieving his Wimbledon dream in what he has described as "the best four months of my life". Marcus told HELLO! in 2016: "After trying and failing to play at Wimbledon for six years in a row, I was ready to give up." However Jenny convinced Marcus to give it one more shot, which resulted in an extraordinary run that ended with him making it to the second round of Wimbledon – becoming the lowest-ranked qualifier to reach the second round of a Grand Slam since 1988. Despite losing to the legendary champion Roger Federer in straight sets, Marcus received a standing ovation from the audience, which included his supportive girlfriend.
Marcus Willis and Jenny enjoyed a whirlwind romance
"Knowing she was there, cheering me on, made all the difference," Marcus told HELLO! "With her watching me on the sidelines, I felt happy and relaxed. It was Jenny who gave me the confidence to believe in myself." Marcus said he was now basking in his new-found fame, which has brought him offers of sponsorships, endorsements and a £50,000 reward for making it to the second round. "I'm overwhelmed by it all," he said. "My body is aching and my mind is exhausted, but above all I'm ecstatic. Since meeting Jenny, I've had the best four months of my life. Now I plan to take her away for a lovely holiday."
The couple went on to get married in November 2016
The couple - who went on to get married that November in a fairytale wedding covered by HELLO! - opened up about their love story, which began when they met at London club Mahiki after Marcus had been to an Ellie Goulding concert and Jenny was on a girls’ night out with her cousin Natasha. "Natasha and I had been through a tough time in our personal lives and weren’t interested in finding boyfriends," recalled Jenny. "I’d been single for two years and wasn’t prepared to let anyone into my life. But that night, I got chatting to some girls who invited us to their table and that’s when I was introduced to Marcus. The moment I saw him I just knew he was different. He had so much charisma and was the first guy who’d caught my eye for a long time. From the look on his face I could tell he felt the same about me," she said. Marcus said of Jenny, who he welcomed daughter Martha with in 2017, said: "She's a stunning girl and I sensed straight away we’d get on well. Since we met our lives have been a whirlwind of happiness; I’m crazy about her."